"Shit!" The engineer cursed wildly as he and the other crew members worked on the busted fuses and melted cables. "Damn, lightning spells fried the power!"
The crew armed with spare cables started to rip the burnt and melted wiring out from the compartments and circuit breakers boxes while the Daisy's engineer removed the engine covers and cursed again. "Damn, the belt has melted!"
"Shut the engine down or we be rowing home!" He yelled up from the engine room hatch.
Lt Quartz quickly yelled for the pilot to shut down the engines while almost every electronic system failed and the only guns that could bear on the enemy were the .50 calibers as the 20 mm gun turrets run on an electric motor.
"Pop the smoke generator!" Quartz leaned out of the wheelhouse and yelled at his crew. "Make smoke!"
The men quickly responded as they made their way to the rear towards a large steel drum mounted at the rear of the boat. The smoke was not true smoke but a chemical mixture under pressure, which when released and poured out over the water, it will hang thick and heavy and evil smelling, a wall of black smoke.
"Incoming small craft!" A gunner yelled as he spotted dozens of small boats being lowered from the side of the barges.
Quartz quickly turned his attention to the Imperial fleet, seeing the enemy fleet deploying boats ladened with troops. "Damn farkers, want to board us!"
"Alec!" He turned back to the engine room and yelled for his engineer. "How much to fix the engine?"
"Ten minutes to replace the engine belt but we need to replace all the busted fuses and cables!" Alec yelled back as he wielded a wrench. "Or we won't have the power to jump start the engines!"
"Fark!" Quartz cursed as he returned to the wheelhouse and ordered. "Get ready to repel boarders!"
The lucky hit by a bolt of lightning had overloaded the fuses despite the anti static and lightning diffuser and the resulting burst of energy had ripped the belt of the engine, shedding the belt's tough belt and causing the PT boat to lose speed.
Now they were dead in the water but luckily they won't too near the Imperial fleet and the water current was against them, and they were drifting away from the large ships.
Large splashes of water slapped against the hull of the Daisy as the Imperial fleet continued to lose bolts of ballista at them. Just as Quartz flinched from a near missed, billows of thick black smoke erupted from the rear and soon the smoke blocked his view of the Imperials.
He exited the wheelhouse and yelled at the crew, "Toss the barrel over the side!"
The men quickly hoisted the barrel spewing the foul smoke and the barrel hit the water with a splash while smoke constantly drifted out from it.
"Grab your guns!" Quartz ordered as stared at the wall of smoke that covered their view. "Any word from Ten?"
The radioman shook his head as he tried calling for help over the air. "Too much interference! Hopefully, they spot the smoke and come investigate!"
"Damn!" Quartz took the offered cutlass from his crew and went to check on the gunners. "How're the guns?"
"Skip! We could only fire the fifties," The gunners reported. "The twenty mikes are locked up, without power the turrets can't turn and fire!"
"Okay," Quartz quickly organized his crew, "Keep manning the fifties and the rest grab your guns and provide cover fire for the fifties."
"CONTACT!" A lookout yelled and everyone spun around at the cry, seeing a shadow burst out from the wall of smoke.
"Shoot them!" Quartz quickly ordered as the coughing Imperials jerked up in surprise and panic at seeing their enemy so close to them.
Instantly barks of revolvers and shotguns answered Quartz as the crew of the Daisy fired at the boatload of helpless Imperials who barely resisted.
"It's like shooting wyverns in a bloody cage!" Someone laughed as the men reloaded their small arms. "Look! More coming!"
Attached the gunfire, the rest of the Imperials paddled into the smoke to investigate and the men of the Daisy eagerly greeted them with gunfire.
"Sir, at this rate, our ammo won't hold!" The Daisy Executive Officer reminded Quartz. "They can afford to throw bodies at us but we don't have the ammo to fight it out with them!"
"I know, we just need to buy time for Alec to fix the boat!" Quartz replied. "Once we can get moving, we are going to find a hole to hide and wait for them to give up finding us."
"The Shard River has many smaller tributaries and waterways deep enough for us to get into," Quartz said. "With their slow speed and size, they can't catch up nor chase us, while we can keep doing hit and runs on them."
"As long as our fuel and ammo holds up," His XO added. "Provided we fix the engines first."
Quartz grinned as he watched his crew easily gunning down the Imperials in doves. "Well, looks like we can hold them off long enough for the mechanics to fix the engine and power."
"Keep an eye on the top side," Quartz said as he returned into the wheelhouse. "I will go check on the engines."
Moel Rothschild crushed the roll of parchment into a ball and stood up, his face white in anger, while the messenger who delivered the news quickly retreated out of the tent.
"What is it?" The Rock asked as he remained seated and sipped his wine.
"Another Baron Lord has pulled back his forces!" Moel tossed the balled up parchment onto the table for the Rock to read himself. "That is the third Baron giving some excuse to pull back their forces!"
The Rock's eyebrow rosed as he read the report. "Than we shall wait no longer and strike immediately!"
"Traitors! Everyone is a traitor!" Moel hissed and he turned to the Rock and said. "I will have their heads on a platter once we are done with this charade!"
"Men!" Moel yelled loudly and a couple of his aides entered and bowed. "Inform the commanders to prepare for a dawn assault!"
UN Forward Trench Alpha Two, 0630 hours
"Stand to arms! Stand to arms!" Hissed the platoon sergeant of Falcon company. He half ran along the trench line and prodded the men awake. "Come on! Stand to! Stand to!"
The Marines getting roused up, grumpily stood up onto the fire steps and readied their rifles as they took up combat positions. "Damn it, Sarge, why do we have to keep on standing to at this ungodly hour?"
The platoon sergeant halted and smacked the helmeted head of the Marine who asked the question and growled, "Idiot! This is the time when the enemy will most likely attack!"
"But Sarge, it's been two days already, and they haven't even made any move!" Cried another Marine as he yawned. "I need my sleep!"
"Assholes! You can sleep all you want when you're dead!" The platoon sergeant cussed. "Now keep your eyes peeled wide open! When I come back and catch anyone of you asleep while you're supposed to be on stand to, I will make sure you get all the toilet cleaning duties for the whole damn month!"
"Yes, Sarge!" The men chorused tiredly while the platoon sergeant shook his head and ran down the line, checking on the men.
As the platoon sergeant left, the men started to gripe among themselves. "Those damn blue boys must be enjoying their sleep while we have to look at nothing!"
"Besides, even if they come, how can they beat us with their weapons?" Another Marine laughed as he patted his M1 Magelock. "This baby will send them to meet their ancestors!"
The men laughed just as a sudden whoosh screamed out into the dark skies before the tripwire flare burst and lit the surrounding area with a red glow.
"SHIT! CONTACTED!" The Marines yelled in surprised and they quickly peered into their sights while others smacked their buddies dozing off on top of their rifles awake.
One by one, tripwire flares popped into the skies and soon the entire front was dyed in an ominous red glow. "Alpha Two to Firebase, requesting starburst, immediate fire, over!"
"Check fire! Check fire!" The company NCOs ran down the line and roared at the men who fired at anything that moved. "Wait for the damn starburst, you idiots!"
As the Marines retained their fire discipline, suddenly a couple of shrieks came over their heads and with a dull thud, the starburst shells fired by the mortars sited in the Firebase popped into existence and lit up the land before the trenches, exposing hundreds and hundreds of figures.
The Imperials were like a deer caught in a headlight as they were blinded by the sudden illumination. They stood brightly lit up in the open area turn kill zone that had been cleared by the Marines days before while hundreds more gathered at the edge of the forest.
"OWN TIME OWN TARGET! FIRE!" Lt Silverstar of Falcon company roared out as he peered out from the firing slits of the command bunker, staring at the target rich environment before him.
Almost instantly, the entire Alpha Trench line exploded as every rifle and machine gun that could bear on the enemy fired. Tracers reached out towards the startled Imperials and men fell as they stood.
"I want a fire mission on the forest edge!" Lt Silverstar turned to his aide and ordered who quickly passed on the mission to the artillery operator. A couple of minutes later, the shriek of mortar shells could be heard and flashes of light followed by the thud of explosives could be seen and heard from the distant forest.
"Guess they finally gave up the waiting game," Lt Silverstar grinned as he used his field glasses to observe the one sided battle. "Hmmm... looks like they are using mages!"
Dozens of shimmering domes of arcane protection could be seen, the domes looking like a soap bubble, glowing under the illumination of the starburst shells. Sparks and tracers bouncing off the domes could be seen as the Imperial troops bravely advanced under the protection of the magic spells.
The semi glowing domes instantly attracted the attention of the heavy machine guns as lines of tracer fire hammered at them constantly, creating an impressive display of sparks and ricocheting tracers.
As the protective magic domes came neared to the Marines' lines, the Imperials' confidence grew. They cheered and roared loudly as the domes weathered the firepower poured against them.
Silverstar frowned and without turning away from his binoculars, "Tell the MG gunners to focus fire on the closest dome."
"And the RPG teams are cleared to fire once any once crosses the hundred fifty mark!" He added to his aides who relayed the message to the men out in the trenches.
He watched the tracers of the MGs suddenly switch targets and the tracers all converged at the foremost dome, creating another impressive light show. The magic dome held for a short while before it suddenly popped into light motes and bullets suddenly facing no resistance, continued on their journey before meeting the armor and flesh of the cheering Imperials.
Silverstar shook his head as he watched the formation of Imperials suddenly without the protection of the magic dome fell in disarray. "Brave souls, what a waste of lives."
The MGs switched target and aimed for another dome and shortly the spell too failed under the concentrated barrage and the MGs reaped the lives of those suddenly without any protection.
Yet despite the best efforts of the machine gun teams, there were more and more domes of protection approaching the forward lines.
The Imperials screamed out their defiance as they pushed harder, each step bringing them closer to the flashes of spellfire of the detested enemy.
"KILL! KILL! KILL!"